Today It’s my turn to be on the blog tour for The Girl In The Pink Raincoat by Alrene Hughes. You may remember last year I shared with you my review of this book when it was first launched as an ebook. Now to help celebrate the launch of the hardback, I’m back with an extract.
In wartime it takes courage to follow your heart.
Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg Raincoats factory.
Gracie is a girl on the factory floor. Jacob is the boss’s charismatic nephew. When they fall in love, it seems as if the whole world is against them – especially Charlie Nuttall, who also works at the factory and has always wanted Gracie for himself.
But worse is to come when Jacob disappears and Gracie is devastated, vowing to find him. Can she solve the mystery of his whereabouts? Gracie will need all her strength and courage to find a happy ending.
Everyone hated the heat and the deafening noise, but for Gracie, the worst thing was the smell of chemicals that turned her stomach every morning when she arrived at the Rosenberg’s Raincoats factory. She put on her green wrap-around overall and covered her dark hair with a headscarf tied in a turban and stood looking out at the blackened perimeter wall and high tower of Strangeways prison not a hundred yards away.
‘Late again, Miss Earnshaw, and in no hurry to get to your workbench, I see. I’ll dock you half an hour for that.’
‘But, Mr Rosenberg, it wasn’t my fault, honestly. There was this woman – very well dressed, lovely hat with a peacock feather – stepped off a bus, missed her footing, practically fell at my feet—’
‘I’m in no mood for your stories this morning.’ He put his thumbs under his braces and stretched them. ‘Now, get to work. We’ve had a big order from Kendal Milne for the new-season raincoats and it’s all hands to the pump to deliver them before the Manchester rain beats us to it.’
Gracie went straight to her sewing machine, and Maria at the bench next to hers shouted over the noise, ‘Did he catch you?’
Gracie rolled her eyes and snapped her imaginary braces, making Maria laugh. Then she started on her first raincoat of the day and was soon singing along with all the other girls. At mid-morning, when the blazing sun was streaming through the skylights, Jacob Rosenberg, the boss’s nephew, arrived in the machine room to check production. He was always immaculately dressed in a hand-tailored suit, but this morning he had removed the jacket, and in his pristine white shirt, open at the neck, he drew admiring glances, causing a sudden drop in the work rate.
Every now and again Gracie, towards the back of the room, slowed her machine so she could watch him. He had a ready smile, knew everyone by name and had a quick chat with them as he recorded the number of garments completed. By the time he reached her row she had her head down, stitching at a furious pace.
‘Ah, Gracie, making up for lost time, I see.’ There was always a smile in his voice, and the hint of a foreign accent set him apart.
She stopped sewing and gave him her innocent look. ‘Wouldn’t want to let Rosenberg Raincoats down, would I, Mr Jacob?’
He checked her total and winked. ‘Knew I could rely on you,’ he said.
At midday the workers sat out in the yard, eating: the men who welded the waterproof seams sat in the shade, while the women enjoyed the warmth of the late-August sun. Gracie unwrapped the newspaper from her dinner and passed a bloater-paste butty to Maria who, in return, gave her a roll filled with Italian sausage.
‘What are you doing this weekend?’ asked Gracie.
‘Same as I do every weekend – selling ice cream and sarsaparilla.’
‘I thought I might go up to Heaton Park. There’s a brass-band concert. Do you want to come?’
‘I don’t think I can. If this good weather holds, we’ll be really busy in the shop.’
Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have enjoyed this extract.
You can catch up with my other book reviews here.